Historical Statistics on Translation Rates?
Thread poster: Dmitri Platonov

Dmitri Platonov
Estonia
Local time: 01:15
German to Russian
+ ...
Feb 28, 2008

Hi dear all,

does anybody know a published statistics study on translation rates in last 5-10-15 years?
It is quite interesting for me. I feel like prices are going down and down, but I don't have any figures to confirm my hypothesis.
The language pair or country are not important, I'll be much obliged for every hint/link!

Best regards,

Dmitri


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:15
Status quo at best Feb 29, 2008

In the 8 years I have been a freelancer, the rates in my marked section (English-Danish) have at best stayed at the same level. They certainly haven't been going up. Indeed, many clients are trying to reduce rates in more or less ingenious ways. I have lost several clients due to this... or let me rephrase: many agencies have lost a good freelancer

Some of the reasons for the rates being under pressure is increasing competition, poor negotiation tactics (both freelancers and PMs), and of course the weak dollar.
That's what I think.

Jørgen


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 00:15
French to Dutch
+ ...
Historical rates evolution statistics aren't possible Feb 29, 2008

For me it is like comparing cats and dogs. Twenty years ago, we had no electronic dictionaries or internet, even hardly a computer. We didn't get files but paper originals. We didn't send our files electronically (no e-mail, no modem) but had to run to the post office or deliver our translations at the client's office. Believe me, ergonomically speaking we made an incredible progress in only 10-15 years. And we invoiced in number of target words (this does make a difference!). The other evolution is CAT, but I think this only contributed to dividing the market in two distinctive parts. And there were no translation websites, making comparison between translators easy, from the agency's point of view.

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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
ITI website has one.... Feb 29, 2008

this here might get you started, Dmitri, it is a publication from 2001 on the whole question of finances for translators. There are other interesting links on this site too...

http://www.iti.org.uk/pdfs/newPDF/ITI2001R&S.pdf

HTH

JP.


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:15
Russian to English
+ ...
A key conclusion Feb 29, 2008

Here are some telling quotes from the UK ITI report:

"Underdeveloped marketing and negotiating skills of freelance translators are leading them to substantially undercut the prices translation companies are able to offer and this is in all probability exerting a downward pressure on rates overall."

". . . Static or falling rates are more likely to be related to marketing problems within the profession than the strong pound or weak demand."

". . . A strong euro has had a negative effect on rates in real terms."

". . . The average hourly rate . . . is less than that of most skilled tradesmen, while a significant number of respondents charge the same rates as secretarial services . . . which manifestly fails to factor in the technical, linguistic, and cultural knowledge they provide over and above any such services."

And one final quote:

"54.5% of respondents indicated that translation was not the main source of income for their household. Indeed, many people pointed out that they wouldn't survive on it if they had to. Not a very healthy situation - either for the individual, or even more so for the profession as a whole."

[Edited at 2008-02-29 16:02]


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Dmitri Platonov
Estonia
Local time: 01:15
German to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'm afraid I was right Feb 29, 2008

Thank you John for the interesting link!

I'm afraid, my hypothesis was right...
The survey covers years 1998-2001 but there is no reason to think the situation hase improved.

To NMR:
You have right, the daily output has risen. On the other hand, everyone who was an interntet-connection and an e-dictionary with 1 billions words thinks it is more than enough to translate. They offer low prices and the real knowledge has very little value today...

To the quotes of James I would like to add the most important sentence IMHO:

"Income levels have in many cases fallen in real terms and are barely keeping pace with inflation overall, sinking to the bottom end of the scale for professionals apart from a few exemplary exceptions."

Dmitri


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OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:15
English to German
+ ...
It's an "equal pay" problem Feb 29, 2008

"54.5% of respondents indicated that translation was not the main source of income for their household."

As long as people are prepared to work for pin money it's not going to change.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 00:15
French to Dutch
+ ...
... Feb 29, 2008

Dmitri Platonov wrote:

To NMR:
You have right, the daily output has risen. On the other hand, everyone who was an interntet-connection and an e-dictionary with 1 billions words thinks it is more than enough to translate. They offer low prices and the real knowledge has very little value today...

Dmitri

Are you sure that these people are able to translate 1) scientific articles 2) technical documentation for a completely new equipment or invention for which thorough documentation is needed 3) legal documentation such as contracts 4) specialized marketing material (well-written leaflets and slogans) 5) Powerpoint slides which can be shown directly to the public 6) documentation which doesn't have to be proofread (all kinds) 6) 10.000 words of specialized texts in a week? Of course not. But you won't find this kind of work on internet sites. So if you compare, you have to keep everything else stable. Is the work you find now by a translation agency or on internet the same kind of work as what you (or someone else) did five, ten or fifteen years ago? I am pretty sure it isn't. As for myself, 80% of my work is the first kind of work, and prices went up considerably.


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Translation-Pro  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:15
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Information from Germany Mar 1, 2008

Maybe this is interesting:

http://www.adue-nord.de/frame.html?http://www.adue-nord.de/umfrage/auswertung.html


Best regards


Christa


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 01:15
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
It is hardly possible to talk about "credible statistics" Mar 1, 2008

Dmitri Platonov wrote: does anybody know a published statistics study on translation rates in last 5-10-15 years?

Indeed that would be interesting to see the figures... but they can't actually exist! Or, rather, a comprehensive report would be hundreds of pages.

15 years ago there was no freelance market in most of the former Soviet Union countries. 7 years ago I was an "expensive" translator because my rate for EN into RU (on the local market) was about $US 1 (one USA dollar) per page (ca. 280 words). Currently, I charge... let me re-calculate... 50 times higher.
At the same time, 7 years ago US clients used US-based translators for the same language combination. Due to the downward pressure from the FSU-based translators (and other factors), the rates got down there - probably by 30%.

Now, should we say that "the rates have increased 50 times in the past 7 years" or "the rates have gone down by 30% in the past 7 years"?

There are local markets. There are different and numerous segments in the international market, and these segments have very little in common - except for they are all "translation". In some of them, rates are going down, in others, they are stable (as there's hardly any external pressure), yet in others, they are going up.

Incidentally, the segment where the rates are going up is one of the most active and definitely the most interesting for us translators.


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
[b] just to clarify...[b] Mar 1, 2008

The link provided above in my earlier posting relates [i] only to the United Kingdom [i] and [b] only members of the Institute were surveyed [b]

It is somewhat out of date, but perhaps the fiscal information hasn't changed that much.

Nevertheless it does make for an interesting read.



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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:15
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rates in 1992 Mar 2, 2008

I started translating in 1992 and was earning between US.08 and US.10 a word. By 1995, I was earning between .10 and .12. At that time, if you quoted a rate that was too low, many agencies would INSIST on paying you more.

Dmitri Platonov wrote:

Hi dear all,

does anybody know a published statistics study on translation rates in last 5-10-15 years?
It is quite interesting for me. I feel like prices are going down and down, but I don't have any figures to confirm my hypothesis.
The language pair or country are not important, I'll be much obliged for every hint/link!

Best regards,

Dmitri




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